Two Overlooked Lures for Springtime Bass

tom 6 pounderMost bass anglers have used the same mentality for years. Pound the bank with a spinnerbait, maybe a crankbait or two and the occasional jig. More often than not they are overlooking a couple of the most productive and largest bass catching baits available.

The swimbait is not a new concept. In some fashion or another it has been around for decades; yet it has really evolved into a solid tournament and trophy fish catching tool in the last five or six years.  The Incredi-Swim from Culprit is a fine example of the modern swimbait. It’s simple, yet realistic motion requires no motion imparted by the angler. Merely cast it out and reel it in! A large paddle shaped tail simulates a steady thumping vibration even at slow speed. Culprit engineered the body shape so that it would also run true at quick retrieves as well.          culprit incredi-swim

Swimbaits can be rigged in multiple manners; threaded on a weighted or weightless swimbait hook, or added to a jighead, which is the most common method. Since the Incredi-Swim  is a five inch, full sized bait, I prefer a long shank jig head much like the one Culprit incorporates in its pack; (a  weightless swimbait hook is also supplied). Matching the weight of the jig head to water depth and retrieve speed is critical. I prefer a 3/8 ounce head, as I target suspended fish in three to eight feet of water most often. Anglers fishing deeper water or wishing to present the bait closer to the bottom will want to rig up with one half ounce heads. Speed of retrieve will also effect the depth of the lure; i.e. a slower retrieve allows the bait to go deeper while a faster speed causes the tail to move more water thus rising in the water column. Line diameter will also define the swimming depth of the Incredi-Swim. Many anglers prefer 14-17 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon, although if thick vegetation is present, braided line is perfect.

Although springtime is optimal for catching trophy fish with a swim bait; they work fantastic in fall and winter as well.  Swim baits can also be used for a not so subtle, finesse tactic when fronts move in. Slowly swim an Incredi-Swim near thick cover, docks, bluff walls and it’s natural movement will draw strikes from the bigger fish than feed on larger prey. During cold front and tough bites, I down size my line and switch to a nearly invisible fluorocarbon line.

The vibrating jig or bladed jig is no stranger to headlines. Anyone who follows pro bass fishing has read about it. Amazingly, few recreational anglers employ this effective lure. I have found that it will typically catch a larger average fish than the spinnerbait does, and in many regions bass have yet to see it. Strike King produces a variation of this lure, called the Rage Blade. What sets the Rage Blade apart from other bladed jig – is that the Rage Blade has its body weight molded into the lip with a swivel between that lip and the hook. This concept reduces snags and makes it more difficult for the fish to throw the lure .  strike king rage blade

These bladed or vibrating jigs create a wobbling action that the angler can easily feel in the rod handle. Imagine how far this vibration travels in the water? Additionally the large, wide lip of the Rage Blade deflects weeds and timber quite well. Once again depth of run is determined by retrieve and lure weight. Most pros use 3/8 ounce or ½ ounce baits, but my choice is always 3/8 oz. Since the Rage Blade is excellent for drawing strikes from bass situated in cover, stout line is recommended. I have always found moving baits like a spinnerbait or crankbait to be best fished on a long fiberglass “crankbait” rod. This is also true with bladed jigs like the Rage Blade. Bass seem to get hooked better with the somewhat slower action of a fiberglass rod and it also reduces losses due to “thrown” lures.

Although there are a dozen or so colors and variations, I prefer simplicity in my tackle. I merely utilize a pair of colors, green pumpkin and a chartreuse/white combo.  Anglers can fish these baits straight out of the package in their skirted mode, or go for a more subtle approach by stripping the skirt off and threading a medium swimbait body onto the jig. In clear water this is my normal approach, especially if I deploy the green pumpkin Rage. Occasionally I will leave the skirt on and run a straight tail worm or add a Culprit/Riptide Mullet onto the hook. Strikes can be vicious which is another reason for the fiberglass rod.

This is one lure that doesn’t require any extra action! I do move my rod tip around to control how deep the bait is running or to direct the ‘Blade into cover such as timber. Experiment with different retrieve speeds and depths. Normally I start fishing it just about out of sight then work higher or deeper in the water column as needed. As I mentioned earlier, experience has shown the fish than bite the Rage Blade are a higher quality fish on average; although I do catch the occasional dink.  riptide mullet pinfish

Expand your horizons, stray from the norm, escape mediocracy; tie on a couple new lures this spring. I firmly believe these simple yet effective lure will work in nearly any scenario for bass or other aggressive fish. More information as well as colors, sizes and where to buy can be found at and


Posted in Feature, Fishing | Leave a comment

Fiocchi Warlock Steel Shotgun Shells

fiocchi warlock full page

By Tom Cannon

Fiocchi Ammunition first entered the United States market in 1983, when Fiocchi of Italy began importing shotgun ammo manufactured in Italy. The product was so well received by American hunters, shooters and sportsmen, that the following year (1984) Fiocchi broke ground on their own U.S. production facility in Missouri. Currently that is where the majority of the product sold in the U.S. is manufactured.

I spoke with Carlo Fiocchi, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, about the history of Fiocchi , their reputation, and specifically their newest product; Warlock Steel. It isn’t long into any conversation with Carlo; before it is evident he is concerned about the importance of his family’s reputation. Fiocchi has no desire to put their family name on anything but a superior product whether it is shotgun ammo, or metallic cartridges. In fact many of Carlo’s relatives are engineers in Italy and put that training to use researching and developing new products.


carlo fiocchi


Obviously,  Fiocchi ammo is well known in Europe. In fact it has been used to claim numerous Olympic medals both by Europeans and Americans. There are two production facilities; one in Italy and the other in Missouri. Thus, I was curious about the differences between shotgun ammo produced for the European market compared to those shells sold in the U.S. Carlo summed it up in the fact that Europeans typically use a lighter loading than we do in America. For instance in Europe, the International trap loads are in the 7/8 ounce to 1 ounce loading, while American Trap is more commonly shot with 1 ounce to 1 1/8 oz shells. The European market doesn’t support the larger magnum loads either in lead or non-toxic versions.

Still, what Fiocchi learns in Italy and abroad does often find its way to American shores. One example of this is the introduction of nickel plating shot. Several American companies offer shot shells with copper plated shot (both lead & steel), yet it was Fiocchi who introduced nickel plated shot. The theory behind nickel is that it has a harder surface than copper and is more uniform thus it creates consistent and effective patterns as well as more energy. Nickel plating was a process Fiocchi developed in Italy and brought here. In fact one of their first loadings was in the Golden Pheasant product line. The Golden Pheasant shotgun shells have quite a following, and can arguably be called the “most effective shell for pheasants” by many upland aficionados!

Years ago Fiocchi introduced their Golden Waterfowl, non-toxic loads. This was a culmination of their top selling Speed Steel loads blended with some of the technology gleaned from the widely popular Golden Pheasant ammo. Fiocchi created a top shelf, premium non-toxic load, which utilized zinc plated steel pellets to produce more down range energy than typical steel pellets. What the Golden Waterfowl line gave up slightly in velocity it more than made up for with effectiveness in both pattern and knock down capacity. This line has also been widely embraced by those waterfowl hunters who seek out high performance as well as those upland hunters who are required to shoot non-toxic ammo.

fiocchi warlock

Recently Fiocchi once again sought to improve their waterfowl product line with new technologies. The Warlock Steel shells are the latest and greatest from the Fiocchi lab. Intensive research and development found that in testing the most effective pellet load was 1 1/5 ounce of shot. Since they intended to create an optimum waterfowl shell, capable of high velocity but still incorporating the heavier, more uniform pellets of the Golden Waterfowl line; Fiocchi once again chose to use zinc plated steel shot.

Additionally through product testing and trials, a new wad was developed and became a key component in the Warlock Shells. Carlo advised me that the wads are of Fiocchi design manufactured from special materials in Italy. I was also impressed by the fact that Fiocchi manufactures its own primers! They do so in order to perfectly match the lock time of the primer to the specific powder in that particular ammo. Premium shot is mandated by the Fiocchi factory. Their shot is imported from Italy where it is made to their specifications; to ensure the utmost quality and performance.

warlock pellet pic

I received a few sample boxes of the new Warlock Steel, and here are the results of my inspection. First, I closely inspected two boxes of the three inch, #2 shot, Warlock, item number 123ST15. Every shell looked and felt perfectly acceptable. There were no bulges in the hull, or nicks, dents or defects in the brass. Likewise the crimp at the top end of the shells all appeared to be satisfactory. After cutting into a sample shot shell, I personally counted and weighed the components. This load is listed as 1 1/5 ounce (shot) from the factory. My inspection revealed it to actually weigh 541.7 grains or 1.23ounce (1 15/64 oz). This was just marginally over the factory weight of 1 1/5 oz which translates to 1.2 ounce. Keep in mind that 1 ¼ ounce would translate into 1.25 oz; so you can see the Fiocchi load is very much acceptable. My pellet count in the actual wad was 143 pellets of size #2 zinc plated shot. All pellets were in good shape. They appeared perfectly round to the eye and all were shiny and free from rust or defect. My research showed that the pellet count for 1 1/5 oz of #2 STEEL pellets should be 150 pellets. Thus mu count of 143 would be slightly off the chart. Since the actual weight of the pellets falls right into line, I attribute the difference in pellet count to be due to the fact the Warlock pellets are ZINC coated thus making them ever so slightly heavier thus pellet count must be reduced to accommodate the listed load.

warlock wad

The wad itself was unique (as stated earlier). It was a brilliant pearl white color and all one piece. Every component was revealed to be exactly what was mentioned on the box and factory literature. At the time of this writing, I had not been able to pattern the load to determine its effectiveness yet I did hear from some hunters in the Dakota’s who spoke very highly of the Warlock shells. Fiocchi lists the velocity at 1550 fps, which is world class speed. Carlo assured me that this load is the optimum shell to achieve both speed (velocity) and knock down power (energy) as well as creating a nice pattern. What’s more I located the Warlock shells, for $110 a case (Roger’s Sporting Goods), which is a real bargain for such quality. In fact,the Warlock Steel was listed at just under ten dollars a case cheaper than Speed Steel.

One of the most common comments or feedback about Fiocchi ammo; is that it is very clean burning. Those hunters and shooters who prefer semi-auto firearms really appreciate this fact. Carlo mentioned that as with all components the factory takes great care when developing a new product to ensure it not only has a proper burn rate for the powder and components but also that they have chosen a clean burning propellant. Dirty or poor burning powder can often lead to powder buildup inside the receiver and gas piston or recoil process. This in turn can reduce the reliability of that firearm and even cause malfunctions. Attention to detail, from primer to pellet is why Fiocchi has made great strides in the ammunition market. In fact, Fiocchi is quickly becoming a household name due to their quality and value.


Posted in Hunting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Perfect Bait for Summer – Soft Plastics

dustin wilks big bass

by Tom Cannon

Summer is the perfect time to employ your arsenal of plastic lures. Very few baits have such a natural appearance and are as deadly for Bass as soft plastic lures. Anglers have several different versions as well as dozens of sizes and color scheme to choose from. Anyone can get blown away with all the choices, so here are some excellent tips from Dustin Wilks, professional Bass angler and host of the TV show “Know Fishing”.

Immediately after spawn, in what Dustin calls early summer, his first choice of lures is a big plastic worm. Specifically he picks a Culprit, ten inch, Classic worm. He rigs it Texas style and casts it toward the ditches or creek channels leading away from the spawning grounds. Those deeper areas are the roadways that Bass take when they leave the shallows and head to their deeper summer haunts. The Classic Worm is a proven bass catching machine from the Carolina’s where Wilks is from to California. It’s equally at home in the brush laden shallows, or on deep ledges.culpritworms

The key to this big worm’s success is the subtle action it produces with the minimum of effort and the large profile. It offers Bass a large, tasty morsel, without much effort. Here in the central U.S., it’s deadly on suspended Bass that hug up to large trees along points or on creek channel edges. Thousands of Bass have also been caught swimming it along humps or ledges off shore in big lakes throughout the South. The Classic Worm is definitely a proven producer and something every angler should have rigged up.

Speaking of deep water… Dustin explained that one of the hottest new trends is to fish a swimbait out in deeper water for bigger summer Bass. He likes to rig up a Culprit Minnow on a ½ ounce to ¾ ounce jig head and make long casts to submerged deep structure. “To be really effective; you have to stay in contact with the bottom,” explained Wilks. Once the lure touches the lake bottom, a simple steady retrieve is all that is necessary. Should the angle lose touch with the bottom, simply stop winding until touch down and then resume. Often this will invoke strikes- so what your line.

Since Dustin is searching for active (easier to catch) Bass, he is concentrating on those fish close to the bottom. When he arrives in a likely area he keeps and eye on his electronics for the “archs” that signal fish holding near the bottom, which are generally the more willing to feed Bass. Those fish that are suspended are typically more difficult to catch.

He usually starts with the ½ ounce jig head that comes in the Culprit swimbait package but if deeper water mandate it or a faster retrieve is required, Dustin ties on a ¾ ounce version.dustin wilks Incredi-Craw bass know fishing

Another tactic where the swimbait excells, is around docks. I have found it to be deadly for summer Bass lounging around shady docks. Short accurate casts, right along the edges of nasty looking docks is a great location to toss the Minnow. Heavy line is a must, since nearly every dock worth pitching to has old rusty cables or posts anchoring it. Those are spots Bass love to run to once hooked; and anything but tough line will allow them to break you off.

This summer anglers in the central U.S. will see lots of flooded conditions. Most lakes are ten to twenty foot high, with literally miles of submerged trees, vegetation and objects under water. Wilks’ first choice when flipping this type of terrain is the Incredi-Slim, a smaller profile of its big brother the Incredi-Craw. incredi-claw

Dustin likes to flip the “slim” into these spots and cover lots of water. The smaller size is less likely to hang up and it’s more compact size offers the fish a different look than the hundreds of big baits they may have seen previously.

Here in my area, anglers see lots of flooded willow trees and thick grassy pasture fields with standing water in them. Plastic worms or creature baits can sometimes get snagged on the vegetation and not look natural. It’s situations like this that I pick up a jig. Nothing drops through a thick, flooded willow clump like a ½ ounce jig. Thread on a Culprit DW3 trailer and this combo looks like a crawfish or sunfish to tight holding Bass. Anglers need to fish a lot of spots to find the isolated areas or stretches of fish holding trees and bushes but when located these spots can really hold some big fish!

flooded willows

As you can see, there are several scenarios that will hold good numbers of summertime Bass. The one key component is soft plastic lures. Their versatility is un-matched for catching Bass from warm water. Never head out in the hotter months without a couple different style of baits and you will likely find some willing Bass.

Posted in Feature | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Convert your Freshwater Lures and Tactics to Saltwater Purposes

tom kayak

By Tom Cannon


Growing up in the Midwest, I spent my lifetime casting to freshwater species. It wasn’t until my twenties that I was fortunate to make an occasional foray to chase some saltwater fish. Like many anglers I am continually trying to learn more about the game; and the more I learn the more I realize fish share common characteristics.

Take predator fish like Largemouth Bass, Pike or Stripers (freshwater). No matter what water the fish lives in, they survive by preying on lesser baitfish. Often anglers realize the fish may not be feeding but can be coerced into biting via a reaction strike.  Predators instinctively will strike when an opportunity at an injured prey presents itself. Pick the proper lure for the right scenario and anglers can increase their catch ratio dramatically. Of course not all situations are ripe for the “reaction strike”.

The first place I look for predator fish is at some sort of ambush point. In lakes and streams near my home; the key spots are creek channel swings, brushpiles, docks and flooded timber. Surprisingly these terrain features are present no matter where an angler chooses to fish- if one looks closely.flats fisherman

For instance, creek channels are present nearly everywhere. Saltwater flats typically have some sort of ditch nearby where deep water can be found. Of course in between nearly every Key, is an actual channel which can easily found by looking for an obvious bridge. In Midwest lakes, we often sink old Christmas trees or treetops to form our own brushpiles. Saltwater anglers can relate, simply by looking for old wrecked boats, crab or lobster pots or washed up debris which typically will be home to numerous species of fish much like a reef.

Flipping to timber is one method I have used to cash several checks in Bass tournaments. Saltwater anglers often overlook their own flooded “timber” in the form of mangroves. Although I have seen an occasional boat or two casting to mangroves, I have never seen anyone “flipping” baits into the trees. What’s more fishing docks is a technique pretty much created at my home impoundment, Lake of the Ozarks. Docks are found nearly everywhere there is water. Many fishermen overlook these prime fishing spots.big dock

The key to dock fishing in saltwater, is water depth. No every dock will present the proper situation but the great thing about saltwater is the tide. Water depth will increase or decrease twice a day. Experience will show when the water depth is prime to catch fish off a series of docks.  Additionally not all docks are equal. The supports can be made of wood, metal or concrete and only by fishing several in the area can the fisherman determine which docks will produce.

The same scenario applies to “flooded timber”. No matter whether it is fresh or saltwater, depth can be critical. Tree size and placement can also be important to predators. I nearly always check the isolated tree or bush or the older, bigger wood.  Usually there is a reason why one tree is bigger and bigger means older with a large root wad to house bait and predators alike.

Furthermore, I often see anglers get hung up on the same old lures that have proven reliable in their circles. I am always on the lookout for transitional bait. I have converted several proven Bass lures into productive saltwater baits. For instance topwater lures. One of my most effective top water baits anywhere is the Ultimate Topwater Shad, a soft body baitfish produced by Culprit. It works well on schooling freshwater Stripers, Largemouth Bass in mossy backwater sloughs and is equally at home on the flats on the Florida Keys. Barracudas and shallow water sharks are suckers for a Topwater Shad walked across a grassy flat. A shallow water crank bait like a Bass Pro “egg” can also be deadly when burned just over the top of grass beds.mangrove

As I stated earlier, mangroves are often overlooked fishing targets. I will venture into the heart of the mangroves and visually search for bedded fish. Once I locate a stretch of trees that house fish. I back out a few yards and rig up one of my trusty flipping sticks. This technique is master by nearly every Bass angler but I have yet to witness anyone in the backcountry trying it. My rig consists of a seven and half foot rod spooled with the heaviest fluorocarbon line I can get by with. Typically 15 pound test, with a painted leadhead jig tied to it. Salty water makes me switch between a Culprit Incredi-Claw (with the curly legs pulled off) or a Riptide Realistic Shrimp rigged onto the jighead. Flipping or pitching into the brush has allowed me to fill several stringers with Snappers and Groupers as well as other species. These baits with this technique also work great around and under docks. Be sure to present the lures into shady areas.

When times get tough in your shallow water haunts whether it is freshwater or saltwater, don’t be afraid to take a few tricks from anglers from other regions. Switch baits to something the local fish haven’t seen and often it will pay dividends!

The same scenario applies to “flooded timber”. No matter whether it is fresh or saltwater, depth can be critical. Tree size and placement can also be important to predators. I nearly always check the isolated tree or bush or the older, bigger wood.  Usually there is a reason why one tree is bigger and bigger means older with a large root wad to house bait and predators alike.

Furthermore, I often see anglers get hung up on the same old lures that have proven reliable in their circles. I am always on the lookout for transitional bait. I have converted several proven Bass lures into productive saltwater baits. For instance topwater lures. One of my most effective top water baits anywhere is the Ultimate Topwater Shad, a soft body baitfish produced by Culprit. It works well on schooling freshwater Stripers, Largemouth Bass in mossy backwater sloughs and is equally at home on the flats on the Florida Keys. Barracudas and shallow water sharks are suckers for a Topwater Shad walked across a grassy flat. A shallow water crank bait like a Bass Pro “egg” can also be deadly when burned just over the top of grass beds.

Culprit Realistic Shrimp

Culprit Realistic Shrimp


Culprit Incredi-Claw

As I stated earlier, mangroves are often overlooked fishing targets. I will venture into the heart of the mangroves and visually search for bedded fish. Once I locate a stretch of trees that house fish. I back out a few yards and rig up one of my trusty flipping sticks. This technique is master by nearly every Bass angler but I have yet to witness anyone in the backcountry trying it. My rig consists of a seven and half foot rod spooled with the heaviest fluorocarbon line I can get by with. Typically 15 pound test, with a painted leadhead jig tied to it. Salty water makes me switch between a Culprit Incredi-Claw (with the curly legs pulled off) or a Riptide Realistic Shrimp rigged onto the jighead. Flipping or pitching into the brush has allowed me to fill several stringers with Snappers and Groupers as well as other species. These baits with this technique also work great around and under docks. Be sure to present the lures into shady areas.

When times get tough in your shallow water haunts whether it is freshwater or saltwater, don’t be afraid to take a few tricks from anglers from other regions. Switch baits to something the local fish haven’t seen and often it will pay dividends!dock fishing

Posted in Feature, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Photo Season

mallard flight

Recently I have taken up a second waterfowl season… Photo season! Once February 15th brings the close of dark goose season in Kansas, I typically had pack my gear and sulked around until the following fall. Last winter I began to take advantage of some optimum bird numbers and snap a few photos. Thus, I fell into a new passion, waterfowl photography. Although I have had no training, and merely have some older, basic gear; I am gaining some valuable experience.

Since I consider myself a student of “the game”, I try to continue my wildlife education when any opportunity arises. I spend countless hours in the field, marsh, or truck, glassing waterfowl with my trusty Alpen binoculars. Once I locate a concentration and gain permission, I scout the spot for best possible “shooting locations”. Blinds are the best way to prevent flaring birds or wildlife, thus I leave a pop up blind at a prime photography spot. The little pop up blind conceals my tripod, camera and body plus it allows me to move about and not spook nearby birds. Good cover allows the photographer to be totally invisible, thus inviting the birds right into his lap for a close shot.

Additionally, during my bonus season, I have the ability to study ducks and geese in an un-molested habitat. Thus I can gain valuable tricks to utilize in the coming season(s).  It was here in my photo blind that I heard what true spit notes from a goose sound like, as well as the various range of volume and tones of a large group of Mallards. Furthermore, I have witnessed waterfowl that are rarely seen in my region during the hunting season. For instance, it’s uncommon to spy a Whitefront goose during the hunting season, but recently my little refuge is covered with hundreds of  “specks” ! Canvasbacks and Pintails are also not typically seen here during the waterfowl season, but now are here aplenty. It’s a rare treat to view them and absorb the sights and sounds of the typical as well as the unorthodox birds. Anything I can learn from ANY encounter with wildlife makes me a more intelligent and experienced hunter. What follow are some of my favorite “shots”.

5 bandsFive banded geese

double band honkera double banded Honker

specks & honkers fliersdifferent size Canada’s as well as Specks

feet up speck3a speck splashing around on his back (feet up!)

neck collar speck!the first neck collar speck I have ever seen

collar view3my second ever neck collar speck (the very next day!)

landing mallarda hovering Mallard in a snow storm


bufflehead, geese & pintailsPintails, Bufflehead, Mallard and sleeping honker

canvasback drakes 3The king of ducks – a pair of Canvasback drakes

Story and photos by Tom Cannon

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why People Should Hunt


People should hunt because it’s good for the population, gives people food, and also it helps your survival skills. Hunting helps keep the animal population in the perfect number rates. Hunting helps people put food on their table for their family. About ¾ of the meal my family and I eat are the food that my father and I hunt. Hunting helps with your survival skills because you could be stranded for days and even months. So that’s why i think that people should hunt.

People should hunt because it helps the population. Hunting helps keep the animal population to the perfect number rate on the charts. Hunting helps the animal population because there is a set number of deer that a person can shoot each year so that it is fair and so that the deer don’t become extinct. Hunting helps the population because a lot of people depend on shelters for food and it’s hard to get enough food  these days.

Hunting helps the population because you can donate meat to local shelters if you have no use for it, and they will be very thankful. Hunting helps the population because a lot of people probably went to bed hungry last night and might die. Millions of people die every year from malnutrition, lack of protein, and just plain starvation so together we can fix that problem by helping other families.

People should hunt because it helps people put food on their tables. Most animals hunted are usually eaten. About ¾ of the dinners my family eats are from my father and I’s deer, geese, and other animals. People can also eat breakfast and lunch, not just dinner of hunted animals. We also eat breakfast sausage (cracker sausage) made of deer. Even if you don’t hunt most of the food you eat was hunted. You might not know this but duck tastes like steak, deer sausage tastes  like sausage and frog legs taste like chicken.

Hunting helps with survival skills. If you were to ever be in a plane crash, most people wouldn’t know what to do; but hunting helps influence your survival skills. Hunting also helps your survival skills by helping you with camping and making fires and getting food. Being a hunter is a lot of work but I must say but it’s well worth it.  I am above the other scouts in my troop because of hunting. It helps me with my sense of direction, sense of smell , and sense for animals health and which animals to leave alone.

Some people want to ban hunting but I don’t think so for these reasons. Hunting may be a very old sport but people don’t hunt just for fun, they also hunt for necessity. We humans also would not be able to survive just on plants. Also most children hate vegetables and will  not be able to not eat just veggies. People aren’t the only one who hunt also, cats, dogs, snakes, and almost every animal hunts. Take this quote for example “One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills to have hunted.” -Jose Ortega Y Gasset. Also if you have ever hit a deer with your car, or had them damage your trees ; you realize how important animal population control is.

The reasons for hunting are obvious. It puts food on your table, helps with the population, and helps with your survival skills. So if you are ever interested in hunting these are the reasons why you should hunt.  – Kylee Cannon

(This was a school project done solely and independently by Kylee Cannon, 6th grader.)

kylee & vito goose field

Works Cited


“CSA – Why We Need Hunting.” CSA – Why We Need Hunting. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. <>.

“Why Hunt.” Why Hunt. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. <>.

“25 Reasons Why Hunting Is Conservation.” 25 Reasons Why Hunting Is Conservation. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. <>.

(This was a school project done solely and independently by Kylee Cannon, 6th grader.)

Posted in Feature, Hunting, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Miscellaneous thoughts, reflections and ramblings on an expired season


The highlight on the 2013 -2014 hunting season was invariably deer season. I scored my archery buck on my first morning in a treestand. Normally it takes many an hour to accomplish the same goal. Yet my highlight of any deer season to date has to be November 22nd, when my daughter Kylee, scored her first buck. By no means was it her first deer, but the first that carried antlers. I don’t know who was happier, the hunter or the guide!T& V

Once deer season ended for us, I whistled and Vito joined me in whatever blind I happened to be in that day. Whether we were chasing ducks or geese, the two of us were side by side. We had some thrilling days in the corn fields where we were overwhelmed with ducks! The same cannot be said about goose hunting!duck closeup

Rare was the day of a limit of honkers.tom&jack

More typical was the days spent wondering why? Amid thousands of geese, a hunter such as myself ponders what he could have done different in hopes of a more successful trip next time.fiocchi green

Of course no matter how bad the situation might be; I tried to find some positives. Constantly witnessing ducks up close and very personal, helps pass the time. A rare sighting of swans passing though the decoy spread sure brightens one’s mood.swans

Of course there are always the sights and sounds witnessed only in the blind !morning at duck pond

What’s more, when your partner has a good day.. it’s tough not to smile no matter what the bird count is!

vito on hillAlso when things get tough as they often do; one has to adopt and overcome. Heck I went so far as to set up in a thick briar patch. Although it was uncomfortable for Vito and I at first, we didn’t mind it much when we shot a limit of honkers!tom & vThanks to all who hunted with us this season. Hopefully we will all enjoy many more glorious sunrises and sunsets.

story and photos by Tom Cannon


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Next Generation’s Hunter


by Tom Cannon

I grew up with a serious passion for hunting and fishing. My dad only hunted upland birds, but that was enough to light the wick and get me started. Later in life when I had my own vehicle, I began to broaden my horizons. By trial and error I learned to hunt big game and waterfowl. Several decades, and hundreds of mistakes later; I have progressed to the next stage… That of coach and instructor.

The last few years have been spent introducing my daughter Kylee, to the great outdoors. Sure she grew up exposed to the tools, animals, and gear; I never really knew if she would have a desire to spent much time afield. We progressed down the path with baby steps. First at six or seven years old, she began to shoot a miniature .22 rifle. That lead to a slightly larger framed .22 rifle and then a toy bow and arrow. When she reached the age of nine, she was getting more mature and mentioned she would like to try deer hunting.

Thus we purchased a youth model .243 rifle and set it up for her. I introduced her to it with reduced power, hand loads. Once she got comfortable with the very light loads, I progressively worked her way up to full power Fiocchi hunting ammo.

kylee shooting

Our first year, age nine was fun but a bit challenging. It was difficult for her to sit still and then be comfortable. Kylee did manage to fill her first deer tag with a nice doe which she shot all on her own.

Her sophomore year had its share of hurdles. Lack of deer movement at times, lead to restlessness and lack of desire to go out. A bit of encouragement and sweet talking was needed to keep the girl on track. Once more she hit her mark and brought home another doe.

Last year, she inquired if she could shoot a buck, since I had relegated her to does only previously. Since she was getting more of a desire to hunt, I purchased her two tags; one of which was a youth buck tag. We labored through some cold weather, and Kylee gained some insight into deer behaviors. Her rifle range extended to seventy yards, where she could effectively shoot on her own (although I was always next to her supervising). Although we saw a few bucks, none of them was reckless enough to set foot inside her restricted shooting range. Once more she tagged another nice doe and was really starting to mature and enjoy herself in the hunting blind.

Fall began to approach this year and we brought out the .22 rimfire rifle for more extensive practices. Since she was getting proficient with the .22, I began to extend her rifle range. Now she was going to be allowed to shoot to one hundred yards or just beyond. We once more discussed and viewed the vital sections of a deer ‘s body. Repeatedly she inquired about the possibility of shooting a buck. With a buck and a doe tag in her possession, we happily left the license counter. Her conversation on the way to the car was all about her desire for a big buck this year.

Youth weekend brought consistent deer movement, yet none of it within Kylee’s shooting range. Having discussed the fact that she would take the first good opportunity at a mature deer, either buck or doe, we were ready. Late on the last evening, movement had been slow. So much that she wanted to leave early much to my dismay. Since her mind was made up, I packed up the gear while she unloaded her rifle. As any hunter knows- that is the sound animals cherish. Seconds later a trio of does stroll by, well within easy shooting range. Kylee learned a valuable lesson that evening about staying put until shooting time is over!

kylee 2014 doe

Since she prefers to sleep late, morning hunts are rarely an option! Thus afternoons are when we have to get after it. Since youth weekend was complete, we now had two weekends to fill her tags. Luckily the first weekend, she observed a mature doe at eighty yards. One shot with her trusty rifle and it was down! A quick check of my watch, revealed we still had an hour left to hunt. I asked her if she wanted to stay in  hopes that a buck might walk out? When she relied, “no Dad, I don’t want my deer season to end yet…” ; I knew I had the making of a real hunter in my mist.

The following weekend, warmer weather and high winds resulted in tough hunting. Still, my lessons about persistence were beginning to take hold. Upon reaching the box blind and stowing our gear, she loaded her rifle but after a few minutes got restless. Her electronic game began to draw all of her attention, until I nudged her. I pointed to a doe that was being followed by a nice buck. Quietly the game was placed in a bag while her rifle began to ease up to the shooting rail. Due to the hard right angle, Kylee was going to have to sit on my lap to make the shot.

At the crack, he staggered… I had enlightened her previously that bucks can be tougher to drop than does, and had tutored her to always fire a second shot if the animal doesn’t go right down. Quickly she worked the bolt and sent another Fiocchi round downrange. This time the beast was down for good! As we glassed him with our binoculars to ensure there was no movement, she began to assess the situation. I don’t recall the exact words she spoke but the excitement she had was nothing to the invigoration I felt! I have been fortunate to take some trophy class animals in my lifetime yet Kylee’s achievement on that night was the highlight of my hunting career!

It seemed she was walking on air, as we approached the downed buck. She had been taught to focus on the vitals and shot placement, and had never realized the size of this buck until we laid hands on him. A moment of overwhelming excitement over took her for a second or two. Then we thanked God for our successful hunt and put her tag on her first buck. Fortunately we had a few minutes of daylight left in which to snap a few photos that would last a lifetime.

Then as we walked hand in hand back to the truck, she asked me about Elk hunting and I knew I had just encountered the next generation’s hunter!



Posted in Feature, Hunting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

GREAT GEAR: Drake Non Typical Silencer Soft Shell Jacket

by Tom Cannon

drake non-typical-silencer-soft-shell-jacket-dAxDkxTW

This is a product review of the new Drake Non Typical Silencer Soft Shell Jacket, (Drake item # DW 5105). Yes the name is a mouthful, and it is the first item we have tested from Drake’s new big game clothing line, known as Non Typical gear.

I was in need of a new bow hunting jacket so this item arrived at the perfect time. My first opinion of it when I opened the box was, “wow this is pretty light weight – I hope its warm!” Also I was impressed by the subtleness of the material and how quiet it was. Immediately I tossed it in the washer with some Scent-A-Way detergent in order to use it on the next day’s hunt.

Halloween dawned and this would be the first opportunity I had to bow hunt this year. Likewise, I got a chance to test out the Non Typical jacket in a true field setting. I was fortunate to arrow a nice older buck early in the morning. While I was quite pleased with the fact I filled my buck tag, I hadn’t really run the Drake Non Typical jacket through its paces.

drake non typical bowhunter

I was impressed with the movement of the jacket and how the sleeves did not restrict any movement when drawing a bow. My experience as a bow hunter has shown this is the toughest thing to get right in a coat. Drawing your bow takes a lot of motion and movement of the body and any jacket design flaws will immediately show as the hunter gets uncomfortable, pinched or short sleeved while doing so. In fact the jacket was very comfortable and did not bind one bit through any range of motion I tried. I was able to draw and stay at full draw just as I would in short sleeves. What’s more is that the sleeves are not bulky. This is another issue I have with many hunting coats. Sleeves are thick and bulky and can catch the bow string when an arrow is released. I can tell you from experience that if the bowstring touches your coat sleeve it will be an in-accurate shot!

November first arrived and so did a major cold front. A crisp twenty-five degrees read the temperature guage with a north wind at twelve miles to fifteen miles  an hour. Wind chill made it worse enough that I observed deer with frost on their backs! In fact, everything was covered in frost. Hey what better day to test out the Non Typical Silencer Jacket? I still had a doe tag to fill so, I climbed up into another tree stand for a few hours.

Several hours later, I had witnessed a 140 inch buck chasing does around. A smaller buck walked right under my stand but no does ventured close enough for a bow shot. My coat did its job very well. My body stayed warm and dry. The severe wind didn’t cut through my coat. I have totally agree with the name “Silencer” as the jacket made ZERO noise even when rubbing on tree bark. The extra length covers your butt and prevent any draft when sitting or standing in the wind. Wrists were anchored by Drake’s noteworthy Velcro like strap closure which works well to keep warmth in and moisture and wind out.

Outside the jacket had a big handwarmer type pocket ( zippered) at the bottom edge of each side. At chest level there was a zippered pocket on the right breast and a Magnatouch (magnetic) pocket on the left breast. The main zipper was a nice heavy duty type that zipped all the way up to the top of the neck. It would be nice if the zipper would allow it to be zipped completely up but also be able to un-zip the lower portion. This is handy when wearing a tree stand harness.

tom 2014 archery buck

The Non Typical Silencer Soft Shell Jacket is constructed of a polyester exterior material which the camo pattern is integral. Hunters can choose between Realtree Xtra, and Mossy Oak Bottomland camo patterns. Internally the jacket is lined with a 400 gram fleece fabric that as I mentioned performs very well at providing warmth and wind protection. The elbows, inner arms, and faces of the pockets feature a nice chocolate color material to reinforce them. The collar zips all the way up to your neck which is nice for those windy days and it also prevents your bowstring from snagging.

Overall, I would have to say Drake has hit a home run with this jacket. Light weight warmth, silent material, and not restrictive in use; what more could a hunter ask for? The Non Typical Silencer Soft Shell Jacket is the perfect companion for bow hunters or rifle hunters. Get more information on this Non Typical jacket or any Drake item at

Posted in Feature, Great Gear, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Miss The Boat; Check Out These Innovative New Hunting Products for Fall 2014

By Tom Cannon

4 rivers ebads

Another fall hunting season rapidly approaches, bringing with it the many hopes of hunters. Whether it is a trophy class buck you chase, or the feathers of migrating waterfowl, here are several new products that will peak your interest.

First, since many waterfowlers have already begun the quest to the northern promise lands, here are a few items that might just help bag a limit.

fiocchi gold goose

Never am I without my trusty Fiocchi ammo whether it be their Gold line of premium shotgun shells such as the Golden Waterfowl, Golden Goose, or Golden Pheasant loads which are made with plated shot for harder hits and deeper penetration on game birds. New for this year, the Golden Pheasant loads including the GPX version (1485 fps) are available in a four box set that is packed in a heavy duty Plano waterproof box. That’s just the ticket to keep shells dry and organized on that out of state trip!

fiocchi plano box2

Likewise, if we are hunting big game, our rifles are stoked with nothing else than Fiocchi Extrema hunting loads, which feature clean burning powders and premium aftermarket bullets from Hornady or Sierra for one shot kills. This fall Fiocchi has new loads in .223, 22-250, 243, and a new caliber the 300 Blackout. Oh yeah, Fiocchi offers a Plano box loaded with .223 or .308 ammo for those high volume rifle shooters and varmint control specialists! Fiocchi never rests, but you can see their latest new products at

The name and logo of Drake Waterfowl is very distinctive, just like their gear. For 2014, Drake has re-invented the breathable wader. Check out the new and improved, EST 2.0 waders! A complete once over was done to improve the fit and comfort. Higher sides now allow the hunter (or angler) to wade into deeper water. Drake improved the knee area by adding their own Hydro-Flex knee pads to improve comfort when kneeling and Drake also added pleats to the knees to reduce binding when bending over or squatting down. A three layer waterproof and durable but breathable fabric in several camo patterns completes the exterior. Of course the EST waders still have all the pockets and buckle free straps that hunters expect from Drake.  These waders are available in standard and waist high (boat pants) versions as well. See more details at the website,

drake est 20 waders

Yet another unique item from Drake is their new Swamp Sole Backpack. This slick backpack features a molded plastic bottom to prevent the contents of the pack from getting wet if it was to be placed on a wet boat floor, duck blind or muddy field. Pockets and more pockets are the theme in the Swamp Sole. The exterior is covered with different sized compartments as well as ten shot shell loops. Let’s not forget a padded sunglasses case that is integral as well as a water bottle pouch. This is a well thought out, and handy item for the hunter. Although it was designed for duck and goose hunters it would work equally well for deer hunters also.

drake swamp sole bag

One item that really intrigues me is the field blind. I have several different models and all work fine but none really excel. Heavy Hauler Outdoor Gear has a new low profile blind, known as the FLP, or Fast, Light, Packable. This new blind weighs in at only nine pounds and folds up into a tight little package to make those treks into the corn or wheat fields easier. The maximum height is sixteen inches tall so it will conceal easy. Stubble straps cover the exterior to help make concealment complete. A mesh head cover allows the hunter to see yet stay concealed. The rear of the blind transforms into a bag to store the hunter’s extra gear. I hope to do an in-depth review of the FLP Blind at a later date, so stayed tuned, or inspect it for yourself at

heavyhauler flp blind2

Whether you hunt waterfowl, deer, predators, big game, or just like to watch birds and wildlife, nothing beats a good set of optics. Alpen Optics has been producing award winning “glass” for years. This fall, Alpen introduces their Ranier 25-75 x 86, spotting scope. Its must have item for anyone who needs high quality optics in order to view their chosen quarry at extreme distances.  The Ranier series is Alpen’s super premium line of optics and like all Alpen products it features a no fault lifetime warranty. This spotting scope incorporates a 45 degree eye piece for ease of viewing in most conditions. The internal optics have UBX high definition coatings to enhance low light images. Additionally the Ranier spotting scope utilizes “O” rings and nitrogen filled components and is guaranteed to be waterproof in any environment. If you haven’t taken a close look at the Alpen Optics line of binoculars, rifle scopes, spotting scopes and accessories then you are missing the boat. Alpen has won seven awards from Outdoor Life in their product tests in recent years, for their high quality optics at unbelieveable prices. Find your local dealer or just inspect the Ranier, Apex, or Shasta models of Alpen Optics at www.AlpenOptics.comalpen ranier spot scope

One of the best kept secrets in waterfowling is the use of layout boats. Four Rivers Layout Boats were one of the originators of “stealth duck hunting” boats and they produce some of the finest hand crafted low profile boats in the country. The latest creation from Four Rivers is the SOBADS boat. This eleven foot model is built to handle nearly anything a hunter can dish out. Approved for a seven horse power motor, it is best served with a “mud motor” which will push this SOBADS boat through thick and thin waters, over stump fields, across sand bars and dikes and into those hard to reach duck holes. The SOBADS boat will float in two inches of water while carrying nearly five hundred pounds! Did I mention all Four Rivers Layout Boats are hand built here in the U. S.? These incredibly safe and stable boats will get you to and from your destination with ease and once there they disappear with little effort. In fact I have had ducks light within feet of my Four Rivers Refuge Runner boat on numerous occasions! View the incredible videos to see firsthand what the SOBADS boat is capable of. 4 rivers sobads

Big game hunters have been installing trail cameras for years but in recent years things have really evolved. Browning, is best known for their innovative firearms, but recently they entered the trail camera industry in a big way, grabbing top honors in several field tests. Two of their latest trail cameras, highlight the overall quality of their lineup. The Strike Force model is a great value for hunters on a limited budget or who need several trail cams for different locations.  Don’t judge it by its size, (the smallest camera in the industry) because the Strike Force packs a lot of punch! Browning included a 10 Megapixel display camera system along with HD quality video capacity and long battery life. In fact the Strike Force was able to take up to ten thousand photos with one set of batteries (6 AA). It also had great reviews for its ease of use from  Browning_spec_ops_2014-281x351

Browning also makes a big brother, the Spec Ops trail camera. This higher end model generated a nearly perfect review from, and has been selling well among individuals requiring a surveillance camera for security purposes as well as hunters! One of the key components for the rave reviews is the fact that the Browning Spec Ops trail cam has a “no glow infrared”, thus it can take photos at night undetected. This feature never spooks game or “crooks” who may be either poaching or up to devious behavior. It also has 10 megapixels, and great battery life from the 8 AA batteries that fit into the easy slide out tray. What I thought was really cool was the integral two inch color screen inside that allows the owner to view BOTH PHOTOS and VIDEO right there without removing the camera from the tree! This trail cam is also able to take up to ten thousand photos from a set of batteries. Additionally the exterior of the Spec Ops is nearly perfect, as it blends right into most tree bark, thus remaining undetectable by passing humans. In reviews it ranked in the ninety-five percentile of all trail cams for trigger speed and recovery time. See the entire line at

drake non typical silencer jacket

Although Drake is bursting on the scene with its line of big game clothing, by no means are they new to producing hunting clothing for use in extreme conditions. In fact what Drake has done for waterfowl hunters, it hopes to do for deer hunters; keep them warm and dry in tough conditions! Take for instance, the new Non-Typical series of clothing specifically made for big game hunting. Need quiet exterior fabrics? Drake has that with their Silencer jackets and pants. Weatherproof and warm gear for treestands or high altitude treks? Try on the new Drake Sherpa Fleece pants, bibs and jackets. They even have headwear including, beanies, caps, and neck gaiters all in either Mossy Oak Bottomland or Realtree Xtra camo patterns. Face it, we all know that Drake keeps duck hunters warm and dry so why not deer, moose and elk hunters as well? I will have an in-depth field test of some of the new Non-Typical gear in coming weeks so stay tuned or visit, for more details and images.

fiocchi poppers

Let’s not forget our canine hunting partners. While scanning the latest catalogs, my pal Vito, continually bumps my arm reminding me it’s time to train for the upcoming season. Any pro athlete wants their training to be as realistic as possible, therefore let us simulate a hunting scenario when training our dogs. We try to keep a shotgun handy that is loaded with Fiocchi “poppers” or blanks to reinforce the gunshot and falling game methodology. As with all Fiocchi USA products, the poppers and blanks are clean so they won’t fowl your shotgun. Likewise, I cast out a Retrieve-Rite bumper made by Drake Waterfowl Systems. It can be throw long distances yet is durable and lifelike.

drake retrieve rite dummy

Besides stocking up on gear, early season is the last chance to earn points on the home front. Ensure the chores are all done and all the summer projects are completed! Warn your boss of impending cold fronts and buy plenty of batteries for the camera as this fall is setting up perfectly for a memorable hunting season!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment